Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi has said that the Federal Government has remained open-eyed concerning the rehabilitation of the Nigerian Railway heritage.
Amaechi disclosed this yesterday, September 19th, during a discussion in Abuja with the Managing Director, International Railway Heritage Consultancy Limited, Mr Steve Davies.
According to the transportation minister, preserving Nigeria’s railway heritage had been very difficult but nonetheless, his ministry will ensure that it is retained for the sake of posterity.
He, however, called on International Railway Heritage Consultancy Ltd to come up with a concept paper on how to secure the country’s investment in the sector, adding that it was imperative because the entire narrow gauge needs to be rehabilitated.
“When rehabilitating the entire narrow gauge, we may want to either demolish the old stations or build new ones and if care is not taken we may demolish the workshops and build new ones because of modern technology.
“We will be glad if we can see a concept paper on what can be done so that we tie it into the numerous repairs we are going to do”. He said.
Amaechi said that even if there was no money to construct a new standard gauge, the railway will be rehabilitated to about 3,505 kilometres of narrow gauge, which is about 80 kilometres per hour.
“But I don’t want to do that until I see the concept paper of this heritage programme to earmark what can be protected, saved and how to go about doing that. I will be glad to do that,” Amaechi added.
Before rehabilitating the railway, the Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation, Mr Fidet Okhiria, noted that it was important to know the history first.
“There is a railway legacy in the NRC that was started in 1995 with the aim of establishing a railway museum.
“The museum, other than acting as a form of relaxation park, also generated revenue for the government and attracted tourists.
“When we started in 1995, we donated some of the legacy buildings and they made it functional.
“We have some old books on railway, artifacts, steam locomotives, and rail carriage bus gathered in the premises in the railway compound. And we have not exposed it enough to others.
“The UK Rail legacy team visited us for a week. They have improved on our efforts, spending funds to bring it up on their own. And they want to come back and improve on it,” he said.